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Overcoming Dyslexia by Dr. Sally Shaywitz is highly recommended for parents to read if they are concerned about their child's reading and spelling skills.  The following is an extert from Dr. Shaywitz's book.

Signs of Dyslexia

Just as a parent would not think of ignoring her child's scheduled physical with his pediatrician, every parent should regularly observe her child reading. Given the high prevalence of reading difficulties, it is more likely for your child to have a reading problem than almost any other physical problem for which he is being checked.

Listen carefully as your child begins to read. For a first grader, is there evidence that he is trying, although imperfectly, to link letters with sounds? Has he taken that important first step of matching the initial letter of a word with its sound? As the year progresses, you should notice that he is matching sounds to letters in each position in a small word (beginning, end and middle). He should begin to recognize common letter groups (blends, digraphs, etc.) and patterns. (silent E words, adjacent vowels, etc.).

By second grade his basic tools for reading should be in place. In particular, second grade should see the emergence of a child's ability to read easy multisyllabic words (such as rabbit, butter and sleepy). This important step involves paying attention to the individual parts within the word. He is matching not only the first and last parts of the word, but the inner details of longer words as well. You should be concerned if your second grader is not yet sounding out words, is taking wild stabs at words, is not able to read new or unfamiliar grade-level words, has not yet penetrated the inside of a word when he is reading, cannot decode most single or some easy multisyllabic words, is not building a vocabulary of words that he can read fluently, or doesn't seem to enjoy reading.

As your child progresses through third and higher grades, your focus shifts from wondering if she is learning to read to want to know if she is learning to read a critical core of words fluently. Reading is changing in character now. Words are more complicated, and there are many more of them. In class the emphasis is less on teaching reading than on using reading to gain information. It is easy to understand why reading problems are so often diagnosed for the first time in third grade. Since dyslexic readers often do not use a decoding strategy to identify a word and instead rely heavily on the surrounding context to figure out its meaning, you should notice if your child uses word substitutions; these replacement words make sense in the context of the passage, but do not resemble the pronunciation of the original word. For example, a child might read car for automobile. Making repeated substitutions is a sure sign that the reader is using context to guess at the meaning of words they have been unable to decode.

Pay attention to the overall rhythm of their reading. Is it smooth or hesitant? They should be reading most of the words on the page fluently. Slow or sloppy oral reading with words omitted, substituted, or misspoken are important clues that a third grader is not on track for becoming a skilled reader.

Poor spelling is often a sign of dyslexia. Spelling and reading are intimately linked; to spell correctly a child relies on his stored representations of a word, and these are imperfect in dyslexia. Spelling difficulties may be an indication that the child is not paying attention to all the letters in a word and not storing that word correctly.

Handwriting can be an important clue to dyslexia. Children who are dyslexic frequently have abominable handwriting – a problem that continues into adulthood. I believe this difficulty reflects the dyslexic child's problem of appreciating the sounds that make up a word.

By adolescence, bright dyslexics love to think, but for them it's hard to take in the raw material – the printed word – that serve as the source of inspiration for new ideas. They must devote their full concentration to decodng words instead of attending to issues of comprehension. Reflecting the lasck of fluency, they read slowly. The lack of fluency causes significant problems for dyslexic adolescents as they try to cope with large volumes of written work. Homework assignments are often incomplete or take a great deal of time to complete. Fluency is what binds a reader to the test. If a child cannot effortlessly decode a critical mass of words on the page, he cannot engage the text. He'll be at odds with it.

Reading for a dyslexic is fragile, and the process can be disrupted at any moment. Any little sound that draws his attention away from the page is a threat to his ability to maintain his reading. A dyslexic, consequently, requires an extremely quiet room in which to do their reading or to take tests.

Persistent difficulties in learning a foreign language provide an important clue that a student may be dyslexic.

Dyslexia inflicts pain. It represents a major assault on self-esteem. They may have moodiness, want to miss school, and express such feelings as “I'm dumb”.